One of Ayurveda’s main teachings is that we balance our doshas, so that the subtle forces or energies that support the doshas are flowing intelligently and are empowering. Each of the doshas contain and provide an energy force: prana, tejas, and ojas. Prana is vata’s subtle energy: it is the guiding force behind all of life’s processes, our breath, and our movements. Tejas is pitta’s subtle energy: it is our deep transformational ability, the light of revelation, and the warmth of personality. Ojas is kapha’s subtle energy: it is related to our core immunity, mental stability, and the body’s ability to renew and restore itself. These three subtle energies correspond and complement the positive, health-boosting aspects of the mind-body doshas of pitta, vata, and kapha. Let me explain.
In the same way that our physical body is made of the materials we eat, digest, and reconfigure into muscle and skin, the subtle body is made up of sensory, energetic, and experiential material we consume and reconfigure as emotion and spirit. In other words, you are what you eat, and you are what you see and feel. If we want to understand our own subtle body, we need to take stock of all the impressions we experience through our emotions, intuition, intelligence, and spiritual connections.
Personally, I can feel the way that my own mind and body have to digest the subtle
impressions I feed them. If, for example, I spend hours on the internet, getting lost in the black hole that is Pinterest or main-lining Facebook videos, I actually feel exhausted afterwards—and maybe even a little sad. Whereas, if I sit outside after dinner in the moonlight and soak in the sound of Virginia crickets, after a while, I start to feel calm. My mood even turns devotional. Crickets and moonlight feed me. The Internet (in excess) depletes me.
So, there are sensory impressions that feed us in a healthy way. You can come up with your own list of healthy sensory-foods. For me they are things like sunsets, Gillian Welch’s music, baby giggles, tears of joy, and the smell of fresh-baked bread. Your list may be different. But the question is, from an energetic standpoint, are you eating junk food or nourishing food?
The subtle energies are not only sensory; they are also affected by the material world of food, lifestyle habits, and even weather. It is sobering to think that the news programs we watch have an effect on the health of our subtle body. And while we cannot live in a bubble, it helps to take these effects into account when we consider how we choose to spend our time.
So, just as you can profoundly affect your health by eating well, you can positively impact your subtle body through things like deep breathing, yoga, calming your senses, building powers of concentration, and good old-fashioned love. When we work to build balance with our doshas, we can then positively create these subtle energies—and we take a step closer to not only empowering our life’s desires, but also understanding who we really are.
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